McIlroy–QuarkXPress and InDesign Battle it Out

As time passed, the two warring fiefdoms suffered the mortal consequences of Quark’s triumph. Quark started to become the arrogant victor. Its customer service efforts began to disintegrate, even as its software upgrades became ever more sporadic, bug-ridden and high-priced. Customers continued to use QuarkXPress because it was still the best software tool, but their resentment towards the company turned, in some cases, to fury.

But that fury seemed tame in comparison to the passions brewing at Adobe headquarters in Silicon Valley. The mood there became obsession, an obsession for revenge. The sense was, no matter what it takes, no matter what it costs, we will fight you, Quark, and one day we will reclaim the page layout title.

Thus, Adobe InDesign was conceived: a next-generation page layout tool with the best typography possible on the desktop and intimate links to other Adobe software. A Quark killer!

A New Player on the Field
After years in the laboratory, InDesign was finally launched a year ago with great hoopla. Everyone paid attention. There was a single question on all their lips. Was this to be, finally, the Quark killer—the product that would humble the arrogant victor? Adobe officials were characteristically tasteful in their response. Yes, they would admit, Quark is our competitor. And yes, InDesign must surely competes with QuarkXPress. But a Quark killer? Oh, that’s hardly for us to say. Let the market render its verdict.

The competition might have remained dignified, except that Quark tried to pull a fast one on Adobe. In September 1998, when Adobe’s shares were trading down around $25, Quark announced a sort-of takeover bid for Adobe. The bid never materialized in specific terms, and appeared afterwards to have been designed mainly to humiliate Adobe at a moment of weakness. It helped Adobe clarify its thinking on InDesign’s market position.

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